Pair of Stakes Kick Off Belmont Stakes Racing Festival Thursday

Chocolate Gelato | Janet Garaguso


ELMONT, NY – A pair of stakes races, led by the featured GII Wonder Again S. for 3-year-old fillies on grass, will raise the curtain on the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival Thursday afternoon.

Repole Stable's Spansive (Karakontie {Jpn}) will put her perfect two-for-two record on the line for Todd Pletcher while making her stakes debut in the eight-deep Wonder Again.

Trainer Chad Brown will have three chances for his fifth Wonder Again win. He will saddle 5-2 morning-line favorite Revalita (Fr) (Recoletos {Fr}), a rallying second in the GII Edgewood S. at Churchill May 5; the rail-drawn co-second choice Venencia (Fr) (Recoletos {Fr}), third as the favorite while making her U.S. bow in a Keeneland allowance Apr. 27; and last out Belmont maiden winner Prerequisite (Upstart).

Last term's GI Frizette S. winner Chocolate Gelato (Practical Joke), meanwhile, will launch her sophomore campaign a race earlier versus six rivals in the six-furlong $150,000 Jersey Girl S. The dark bay failed to fire while making her first attempt around two turns in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland Nov. 4. Like the aforementioned Spansive, Chocolate Gelato is owned and trained by the same connections as GI Belmont S. morning-line favorite Forte (Violence). This race's namesake Jersey Girl provided Pletcher with his first Grade I victory as a trainer in the 1998 Acorn.

Drawn on the rail and sporting an imposing record of four wins from five career starts, Red Carpet Ready (Oscar Performance) is the horse to beat after hanging on by a head in the seven-furlong GII Eight Belles on the GI Kentucky Oaks undercard.

Thursday's 10-race program gets underway at 3:05 p.m. ET.

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